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CMA CGM chooses LNG to power 9 giant container ships due in 2020

The CMA CGM Group, a world leader in maritime transport, will equip its 9 future container ships of 22,000 TEUs (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit), to be delivered in 2020, with engines using liquefied natural gas. At 22,000 TEU, the ULCVs (Ultra Large Container Vessels) will be among the largest in the world; the largest container ship in operation currently is the OOCL Hong Kong, with a carrying capacity of 21,413 TEUs.

These containerships will be LNG-powered—a few percent of marine gas oil will only be used for the ignition in the combustion chamber. CMA CGM is the first shipping company to fuel giant containerships with LNG.

The use of LNG will yield significant environmental benefits compared to heavy fuel oil:

  • up to 25% less CO2
  • 99% less sulfur emissions
  • 99% less fine particles
  • 85% less NOx

Moreover, the Energy Efficiency Design Index (EEDI) is improved by 20% compared to ships only propelled by fuel oil.

The EEDI is an initiative of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to reduce GHG emissions from ships. The EEDI establishes a minimum energy efficiency requirement for new ships depending on ship type and size, provides a robust mechanism that may be used to increase the energy efficiency of ships, stepwise, to keep pace with technical developments for many decades to come.

It is a non-prescriptive mechanism that leaves the choice of which technologies to use in a ship design to the stakeholders, as long as the required energy-efficiency level is attained, enabling the most cost-efficient solutions to be used.

By choosing LNG, the CMA CGM Group also goes beyond current and future regulations that limit the sulfur cap to 0.5% in 2020. The Group says that it is also fully in line with the Paris Agreement and the ongoing discussions at the international level.

Between 2005 and 2015, the Group has reduced its CO2 emissions per container transported per kilometer by 50% and has set up a plan to further reduce its CO2 emissions by 30% between 2015 and 2025.



It would be a significant development, if the economics show a clear advantage for LNG over fuel oil for large ships then there could be quite a rapid switch.

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